By Kristy Siegfried | 24 January, 2020
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Greece urged to move seriously ill refugee children from Lesvos. Greece’s government has been urged to immediately evacuate 140 sick children from the Moria reception centre for asylum-seekers on the island of Lesvos. Médecins Sans Frontières on Thursday said the children were being deprived of medical care for “chronic, complex and life-threatening diseases” such as diabetes, asthma and heart conditions, and were living in tents in unhygienic conditions. The government withdrew access to the public health system for asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants soon after being elected last year. MSF said the move had left more than 55,000 people without proper medical care. Meanwhile, mayors from Lesvos, Chios and Samos, as well as the regional governor for the Northern Aegean, met with Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis in Athens on Thursday. Mitarakis acknowledged that the presence of some 40,000 refugees and migrants on the islands had placed a heavy burden on local communities and said decongesting the islands was a priority.
Ruling on climate displacement “a wake-up call”, says UNHCR. A landmark ruling on climate displacement earlier this week by the UN Human Rights Committee was welcomed today by the UN refugee agency. The Committee found that people fleeing the effects of climate change or natural disasters should not be returned to their home countries if their essential human rights, including the right to life, would be at risk on return. UNHCR said the decision had “potentially far-reaching implications” for the international protection of people displaced by climate change and underscored the need for countries to take action to prevent or mitigate against the negative impacts of climate change, which in future could otherwise force people to leave, triggering international obligations. The ruling recognizes that international refugee law is applicable in the context of climate change and disaster displacement, said UNHCR.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Another 20,000 people flee fighting in north-west Syria. Tens of thousands of people continued to flee renewed fighting in north-west Syria this week, adding to the 350,000 people displaced since hostilities escalated at the start of December. Mark Cutts, the UN’s deputy regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria, tweeted on Thursday that 20,000 people had been displaced in the last week, mainly from western Aleppo. He shared a video showing vehicles loaded with belongings and people fleeing the area. The European Union on Thursday condemned the violence and called for an end to “unacceptable” air strikes and shelling targeting civilians. On Tuesday, air strikes reportedly killed at least 23 people, including a family of eight in the village of Kfar Taal. Rescue workers reported that another eight civilians were killed on Thursday.
Last asylum-seekers held in Papua New Guinea detention centre released. Eighteen men who had been held in Papua New Guinea’s Bomana immigration detention centre since August were released on Thursday night, reports The Guardian Australia. They were among a group of 52 men arrested by PNG authorities who had previously been detained for up to seven years on Manus Island under Australia’s off-shore asylum system. The other men had been released from Bomana after agreeing to return to their home countries. The 18 men were moved to three hotels in Port Moresby. Shaminda Kanapathi, a former Manus Island detainee who met with the men, tweeted that they had lost a lot of weight during their five-month detention, and their physical and mental health had deteriorated.
Libya’s neighbours meet in Algeria seeking stronger truce. Foreign ministers from nations bordering Libya met in Algeria today to discuss how to strengthen a fragile truce in the country and avert more foreign involvement in the conflict. Heiko Maaas, the foreign minister of Germany, which hosted a summit on the Libyan crisis on Sunday, also joined the meeting. The conflict’s recent escalation has alarmed some of Libya’s neighbours, who fear it may provide more space for armed militant groups to operate across the Sahara and the Sahel region. Tunisia is also concerned about a possible influx of refugees, reports Reuters. More than 140,000 people have been forced to flee their homes since the outbreak of fighting in and around Tripoli last April.
More than 200,000 stateless people living in US, finds study. A study seeking to map the population within the United States who lack a nationality has found that 218,000 people are potentially stateless or at risk of statelessness. Previously, there were no reliable statistics for the number of stateless people living in the US. Researchers from the Center for Migration Studies of New York used US census data and a “unique methodology” to produce the estimated figures. The largest numbers of stateless people are living in California, New York, Texas and Ohio. Those interviewed for the report spoke of the psychological stress, stigma and challenges of lacking a legal status. “The study itself validates us an
Ten-year-old Guillermo Misac didn’t have to put his dreams of training to be a musician on hold when he fled from Venezuela to Peru. At his new school in Arequipa, he’s learning to play the trumpet and making new friends.
DID YOU KNOW?
Last year, 74,600 refugees and migrants arrived in Greece, 50 per cent more than in 2018. Most were families with children from Afghanistan and Syria.